A well-installed roof will usually have a useful life of more than 20 years. Exceptions to this would be tin, slate, tile, and copper roofs, which last for decades before you are required to repair or replace them. However, the fact is, a roof's useful life is dependent on climate, snow load, material, quality, design, maintenance, and installation. While buying a new house, make sure you check the roof. Get a complete roof inspection and only if the roof is durable, place your offer. Licensed home inspectors can do the inspection for you. Or, you could also hire a professional roofing contractor for a certified inspection. If you can not obtain a roof inspection before making an offer on the property, your real estate agent can present an offer contingent on the roof passing an inspection or being replaced if need. To prevent the occurrence of significant costs, obtain assurance from the homeowner that their insurance covers replacement costs for the roof in case of a major storm, fire, or any devastating event before the closing. Read the fine print carefully. Some plans only provide depreciating value; which in the case of an old roof could amount to nothing, A rather common misconception is that if your roof is leaking, it needs to be replaced. The truth is, leaks typically occur due to leaking flashings or shingle damage. A complete roof failure is very rare and can only happen because of two major causes – poor installation or natural disaster. Instead of crawling up your roof to check for damages and breaking limbs in the process, use a high-powered pair of binoculars. Look out for cracks, twisted or damaged flashings or missing shingles. More often than not, problems in the roof are not discovered until a lot of the damage has already occurred. An annual roof inspection is a wise choice to make. In case any damage is found, you have two options – either to reroof or to re-cover the existing roof. Most city building codes allow re-covering only once, after which you need to reroof. In case you opt for reroofing, the costs could vary depending on materials selected, the contractor’s pay and the location of your house, labor rates and the time of the year. The best plan would be to take quotations from at least three contractors and compare the prices and services offered. If you are an experienced homeowner who can accomplish a wide range of repair or replacement tasks around the house, roofing is not one to tackle on your own. Roofing is a dangerous job that requires precision professional expertise. A builder or contractor possesses the right kind of equipment, technology, and skills needed to accomplish the task. Also, your insurance can only offer protection against an accident. If the roof is not built or installed correctly by professionals, the insurance company will not provide coverage against damage. Contact your homeowner's insurance agent for a referral to an established and reliable contractor.